The Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) system has been with us since the mid-1980s and little has changed in all that time – until the pandemic struck.
SSP is a minimum payment that employers must make to eligible employees if they are unable to work. Employers cannot recover any of the payment from HMRC.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 changed the operation of the SSP system, which was necessary as a result of increased sickness and, therefore, increased cost to employers. This time-limited Act received Royal Assent on 25 March 2020 and allowed for secondary legislation to be made which gave us:
- The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme – the first one closing 30 September 2021 and the second closing 17 March 2022
- The suspension of waiting days powers means that SSP could be paid from the first qualifying day in a Period of Incapacity for Work (PIW) rather than the fourth.
This gave us two types of minimum sickness payment:
- Covid-related SSP – where an employee became eligible when sick and/or isolating (and shielding when this was in place). Covid SSP was the SSP type payable from the first qualifying day in the PIW and this type of SSP could be recovered under the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, when this was in operation.
- Normal SSP – this is where the absence is not Covid-related, for example, an absence caused by a broken arm. This type of SSP was subject to the normal rules meaning that it was payable from the fourth qualifying day in the PIW and could not be recovered under the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.